Blind graduate of G-Star School of the Arts delivers 'valedictorian' speech from memory

Elizabeth Cotromano overcomes brain cancer
Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 18:36:40-04

PALM SPRINGS, Fla. — A high school graduate in Palm Beach County is legally blind, but she can clearly see her goals and is aiming for the stars.

Elizabeth Cotromano of Riviera Beach stood proudly behind the podium to give the Founder's Courage speech at graduation.

It's the equivalent of a valedictorian speech at G-Star High School of the Arts.

Getting to this point in her life was a journey.

As a child, she was diagnosed with brain cancer, which left her legally blind.

Beth Cotromano and Elizabeth Cotromano
Beth Cotromano expresses how proud she is of her daughter following Elizabeth's list of accomplishments.

Cancer hit again at the start of high school but she kept it under wraps.

"I decided that I wasn't going to tell many people," Cotromano said. "As long as I didn't physically show it on myself, then they could still see me as who I was."

As a way to get her studies done, she said she figured out her methods for doing normal tasks.

"I use a lot of memorization," Cotromano said. "I memorize where things are."

She said plenty of people helped her cope through the treatment and recovery process.

Elizabeth Cotromano's art
Among Elizabeth Cotromano's passions is her love of art.

She turned to art as an outlet to move forward.

"I almost used art at first to validate I was equal to others," Cotromano said. "[I wanted to] show them that in spite of my vision, I can still make art."

Some of her art projects took staying up all night while others took two years.

"I thought that they were breakthrough paintings, that you expressed yourself better than ever before," her mother, Beth Cotromano, said.

Elizabeth's drive and academic achievement earned her the Founders Award. She delivered her speech during graduation all from memory.

At the conclusion, she received a standing ovation from her classmates.

"I am proud to be your mom," her mother said.

"I finally feel like someone sees me for who I am," Cotromano said.